Dania Aqeel: Saudi Arabia’s female sensation
Once the event gets underway, keep an eye out for Saudi Arabian female racer Dania Aqeel, who competes in the Lightweight Prototype T3 class. He finished eighth in the category on his debut last time out and returned by finishing second in class at the FIA Cross-Country World Cup, partnering veteran Uruguayan Sergio Lafuente in the Southern Racing Can-Am Maverick X3. Aqeel was the first Saudi woman to be licensed to ride a race motorcycle, but took off the road after an accident.
“Honestly, I like it, I like the novelty,” he says of his chosen sport. “The terrain is always new at every event, even running the same event two years. It will always be different. Also you as a driver are always changing. It is exciting and definitely the word for ‘adventure’. It pushes you to limitations you didn’t know you had. You really face yourself in this race. While this can be enjoyable it can be quite challenging mentally, constantly encountering a point where you think ‘OK, this is my limit’. But then you find yourself crossing it and crossing the threshold, and your perspective changes. It affects every part of your life.”
Such intensity, almost every day for two weeks, in a remote, dangerous and mysterious landscape… that’s what makes the Dakar Rally so special. It will be epic.